This question does not apply just to your physical being. Just as important, but often overlooked, is your mental health. At times, people can be subconsciously unaware of how important mental health is. Some people are willingly ignorant to it.
Choosing to minimize the importance of your mental health is self-destructive. It is as self-destructive as knowing you have a serious disease or disorder and not seeking treatment. Understanding how important identifying, accepting, and addressing mental health issues can be the key to answering a big part of the question, ‘How healthy am I?
Where Do I Begin?
Mental health is an essential part of a person’s physical well-being, healthy relationships with yourself and others, and living a fulfilling life. You should start by identifying where you stand when it comes to mental health. Do you acknowledge the importance of it? Does the thought of mental health ever cross your mind?
Being unaware or ill informed is one of the easier things to address. Doing research or talking with your doctor can help you identify some issues you may have, but did not realize. Not everyone has a serious mental health disorder. As humans we do have negative thoughts, self doubt, or self-destructive tendencies. Looking into mental health can help you find ways to help change those negative thoughts.
Choosing to ignore mental health is dangerous. Yes, there is a stigma surrounding mental health. The way we begin to diffuse that stigma is taking some time to understand how truly important a healthy mental state is. It is true that mental health impacts our physical well-being. Here are 4 good reasons to not write off mental health:
- Mental health disorders or illnesses are much more common than you may think. They may vary in severity, but 1 in 5 adults suffer from some sort of disorder. Many do not seek the help they need.
- Mental illness affects your physical health. Mental illnesses do have physical symptoms. For example, extreme anxiety may show physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, insomnia, hyperventilation, even nausea. Panic attacks can sometimes feel like a heart attack.
- Mental illnesses can sometimes worsen other issues you may have. Dual diagnoses are common in people suffering from addictions. Self-medicating to soothe any negative feelings or thoughts can lead right into an addiction.
- Early detection, like any disorder or disease, can help avoid any symptoms becoming worse. Early detection can help avoid any negative impacts on relationships, work, or managing your life.
Why Is Mental Health So Important?
Mental health can have serious impacts on all aspects of our lives and the lives of those around us. The effects of some of these disorders and illnesses can have harmful and long-lasting effects. Adults, teens, and children living with undiagnosed or untreated mental illnesses leave them at risk for unhealthy and unsafe behaviors.
It can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, self-destructive behavior, self-harm, even suicide. According to The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, in 2015, (the most recent year for which data is available), approximately 575,000 people visited a hospital for injuries due to self-harm. In 2019, about 90% of those who commited suicide had signs of a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death. Talking about mental health is more important than ever.
There are different types of mental health illnesses. What they all have in common is how they affect a person’s emotions, moods, thoughts, and behaviors. To name a few:
- Mood disorders affect your mood and emotions. Depression and Bipolar Disorder are examples.
- Anxiety disorders like social anxiety and PTSD. Severe anxiety can trigger the fight or flight response, flooding the brain with adrenaline. This can leave you feeling afraid of situations others may feel are normal.
- Personality disorders like borderline personality disorder can affect the way you feel or form relationships. This can cause people to act impulsively and can lead to dangerous situations.
- Eating disorders are caused by distorted body image. Disorders like anorexia and bulimia can leave a person malnourished and extremely unhealthy.
- Substance abuse disorders.
Addressing The Problem
Addressing the problems that mental illnesses cause is the next step. We need to be honest with ourselves. Accepting that your mental health may not be where you would like it to be is the first step. If it isn’t, it is time to begin addressing that.
Not everyone has a serious mental illness like schizophrenia, but we all have negative thoughts sometimes. When we begin letting those negative thoughts keep us from doing things that make us happy, that is when we need to take a good look at ourselves. Asking for help with this is a big step in the right direction.
As The World Organization says, “There is no health without mental health.” Sometimes, we need to take a moment and take a good look at ourselves. If there is something you are feeling or thinking that is harmful, reach out.